Obama Endorses the Orwellian 'B1 Emissions Path'

Has the Obama administration set the U.S. on the “B1 emissions path”?

The B1 emissions pathway was defined in an obscure IPCC report published fourteen years ago (and since superseded), titled the Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES). Four scenarios were presented:

  1. A1: “strong commitment to market-based solutions” and “high rates of investment and innovation in education [and] technology.”
  2. B2: “international institutions decline in importance, with a shift toward local and regional decision-making structures and institutions.”
  3. A2: “some regions move toward stronger welfare systems and reduced income inequality, while others move toward "leaner" government and more heterogeneous income distributions.”
  4. B1 was dubbed the “global utopia pathway” by Michael Mann in his book “Dire Predictions.” It has the most significant reduction of greenhouse gases, but the IPCC cautions that it “may adversely affect the economic efficiency and functioning of world markets.”                         
An unexamined assumption of the Obama Administration’s Third National Climate Assessment (NCA3) is that global climate policy must follow the B1 emissions path. According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, B1 represents a future characterized by “massive income redistribution and presumably high taxation levels.”

The NCA3 refers to B1 dozens of times, as in this statement:

Achieving the B1 emissions path would require substantial decarbonization of the global economy by the end of this century, implying a fundamental transformation of the global energy system. (NCA3, p. 657)

Given the challenge of transforming a $5 trillion a year market, one might have expected Obama’s 841-page Assessment to explain its decision to endorse the B1 emissions path. But the report makes a simplistic conclusion: emissions cause global warming, thus the lowest emission path is the only choice. The decision is presented as a fait accompli. A typical assertion:

Over the remainder of this century, aggressive and sustained greenhouse gas emission reductions by the United States and by other nations would be needed to reduce global emissions to a level consistent with the lower scenario (B1) analyzed in this assessment. (p. 14)

The statement is tautological: a lower emissions scenario will require lower emissions.

Furthermore, the Assessment gives no information about what the B1 storyline would entail. Fortunately, the IPCC Special Report section titled “B1 Storyline and Scenario Family”goes into the details. The quotations below are all from Section 4.3.3 of the IPCC report (with some of my observations).

1. Income redistribution:

  • “Whereas the [free market storyline] A1 world invests its gains from increased productivity and know-how primarily in further economic growth, the B1 world invests a large part of its gains in improved efficiency of resource use (dematerialization, e.g., decline in energy and material intensities), equity, social institutions, and environmental protection.”
  • “[E]fforts to achieve equitable income distribution are effective.”
  • “This is a world with … significant and deliberate progress toward international and national income equality.”
  • “Resources are shared more equitably to the benefit of all and the greater safety of humanity.”

As we learned with Joe the Plumber, Obama believes that “when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” Recently he has referred to income inequality as the “defining challenge of our time.”

2. Taxation:

  • “A higher proportion of…income is spent on services rather than on material goods, and on quality rather than quantity, because the emphasis on material goods is less and also resource prices are increased by environmental taxation.”
  • “Strong incentives [subsidies funded by taxes] for low-input, low-impact [e.g., organic]agriculture, along with maintenance of large areas of wilderness, contribute to high food prices with much lower levels of meat consumption than those in [free market] A1.”
  • “A strong welfare net [funded by taxes] prevents social exclusion on the basis of poverty.”

High taxes and income redistribution will lead to “dematerialization”: if you confiscate people’s money, they will be forced to live in smaller houses, drive smaller cars, consume less and thus have lower carbon footprints. In other words, they will be poor.

3. One World Government:

  • “Incentive systems [i.e., subsidies], combined with advances in international institutions, permit the rapid diffusion of cleaner technology.”

Shifting power to international institutions has been a dream of the left for decades. Obama “science czar” John Holdren’s 1978 book  Ecoscience proposed a “comprehensive Planetary Regime” that “could control the development, administration, conservation, and distribution of all natural resources.”

4. Abrogation of private property rights:

  • “Land use is managed carefully to counteract the impacts of activities potentially damaging to the environment.”

Note: no distinction is made between public and private land use.

5. Social planning:

  • “Cities are compact and designed for public and non-motorized transport, with suburban developments tightly controlled.”

The Khmer Rouge emptied the cities; the climate totalitarians will empty the suburbs and force everyone into low-carbon footprint apartment buildings. Cars will be banned in favor of “non-motorized transport.” Everyone will ride a bicycle like in Mao’s China.

  • “This [B1] scenario includes a voluntary embrace of cohesion, cooperation, and reduced consumption, backed by legislation and even corporate policies.

Voluntary… but “backed by legislation.” In other words, “involuntary.”

6. Utopianism (meant as a positive):

  • “The egalitarian utopia scenarioin the TARGETS approach… share[s] several of the characteristics of the B1 type of future.”
  • “In Ecotopia, Wilkerson (1995)… community values triumph over individualist ones and lead to resource-friendly lifestyles based on clean and light technologies.”

The Special Report adds this comment: “counter-currents may develop and in some places people may not conform to the main social and environmental intentions of the mainstream in this [B1] scenario family.” The 1960s are turned upside-down: the non-conformist anti-green counter-culture will rebel against theauthoritarian environmentalist mainstream.

Skeptics who argue that the global warming movement is motivated by Marxist politics, not “settled science,” are treated with derision as conspiracy nuts. Obama’s endorsement of the B1 scenario’s miscellany of anti-capitalism, communitarian ideologies and totalitarian schemes clearly reinforces the contention that green is the new red.

Has the Obama administration set the U.S. on the “B1 emissions path”?

The B1 emissions pathway was defined in an obscure IPCC report published fourteen years ago (and since superseded), titled the Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES). Four scenarios were presented:

  1. A1: “strong commitment to market-based solutions” and “high rates of investment and innovation in education [and] technology.”
  2. B2: “international institutions decline in importance, with a shift toward local and regional decision-making structures and institutions.”
  3. A2: “some regions move toward stronger welfare systems and reduced income inequality, while others move toward "leaner" government and more heterogeneous income distributions.”
  4. B1 was dubbed the “global utopia pathway” by Michael Mann in his book “Dire Predictions.” It has the most significant reduction of greenhouse gases, but the IPCC cautions that it “may adversely affect the economic efficiency and functioning of world markets.”                         

An unexamined assumption of the Obama Administration’s Third National Climate Assessment (NCA3) is that global climate policy must follow the B1 emissions path. According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, B1 represents a future characterized by “massive income redistribution and presumably high taxation levels.”

The NCA3 refers to B1 dozens of times, as in this statement:

Achieving the B1 emissions path would require substantial decarbonization of the global economy by the end of this century, implying a fundamental transformation of the global energy system. (NCA3, p. 657)

Given the challenge of transforming a $5 trillion a year market, one might have expected Obama’s 841-page Assessment to explain its decision to endorse the B1 emissions path. But the report makes a simplistic conclusion: emissions cause global warming, thus the lowest emission path is the only choice. The decision is presented as a fait accompli. A typical assertion:

Over the remainder of this century, aggressive and sustained greenhouse gas emission reductions by the United States and by other nations would be needed to reduce global emissions to a level consistent with the lower scenario (B1) analyzed in this assessment. (p. 14)

The statement is tautological: a lower emissions scenario will require lower emissions.

Furthermore, the Assessment gives no information about what the B1 storyline would entail. Fortunately, the IPCC Special Report section titled “B1 Storyline and Scenario Family”goes into the details. The quotations below are all from Section 4.3.3 of the IPCC report (with some of my observations).

1. Income redistribution:

  • “Whereas the [free market storyline] A1 world invests its gains from increased productivity and know-how primarily in further economic growth, the B1 world invests a large part of its gains in improved efficiency of resource use (dematerialization, e.g., decline in energy and material intensities), equity, social institutions, and environmental protection.”
  • “[E]fforts to achieve equitable income distribution are effective.”
  • “This is a world with … significant and deliberate progress toward international and national income equality.”
  • “Resources are shared more equitably to the benefit of all and the greater safety of humanity.”

As we learned with Joe the Plumber, Obama believes that “when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” Recently he has referred to income inequality as the “defining challenge of our time.”

2. Taxation:

  • “A higher proportion of…income is spent on services rather than on material goods, and on quality rather than quantity, because the emphasis on material goods is less and also resource prices are increased by environmental taxation.”
  • “Strong incentives [subsidies funded by taxes] for low-input, low-impact [e.g., organic]agriculture, along with maintenance of large areas of wilderness, contribute to high food prices with much lower levels of meat consumption than those in [free market] A1.”
  • “A strong welfare net [funded by taxes] prevents social exclusion on the basis of poverty.”

High taxes and income redistribution will lead to “dematerialization”: if you confiscate people’s money, they will be forced to live in smaller houses, drive smaller cars, consume less and thus have lower carbon footprints. In other words, they will be poor.

3. One World Government:

  • “Incentive systems [i.e., subsidies], combined with advances in international institutions, permit the rapid diffusion of cleaner technology.”

Shifting power to international institutions has been a dream of the left for decades. Obama “science czar” John Holdren’s 1978 book  Ecoscience proposed a “comprehensive Planetary Regime” that “could control the development, administration, conservation, and distribution of all natural resources.”

4. Abrogation of private property rights:

  • “Land use is managed carefully to counteract the impacts of activities potentially damaging to the environment.”

Note: no distinction is made between public and private land use.

5. Social planning:

  • “Cities are compact and designed for public and non-motorized transport, with suburban developments tightly controlled.”

The Khmer Rouge emptied the cities; the climate totalitarians will empty the suburbs and force everyone into low-carbon footprint apartment buildings. Cars will be banned in favor of “non-motorized transport.” Everyone will ride a bicycle like in Mao’s China.

  • “This [B1] scenario includes a voluntary embrace of cohesion, cooperation, and reduced consumption, backed by legislation and even corporate policies.

Voluntary… but “backed by legislation.” In other words, “involuntary.”

6. Utopianism (meant as a positive):

  • “The egalitarian utopia scenarioin the TARGETS approach… share[s] several of the characteristics of the B1 type of future.”
  • “In Ecotopia, Wilkerson (1995)… community values triumph over individualist ones and lead to resource-friendly lifestyles based on clean and light technologies.”

The Special Report adds this comment: “counter-currents may develop and in some places people may not conform to the main social and environmental intentions of the mainstream in this [B1] scenario family.” The 1960s are turned upside-down: the non-conformist anti-green counter-culture will rebel against theauthoritarian environmentalist mainstream.

Skeptics who argue that the global warming movement is motivated by Marxist politics, not “settled science,” are treated with derision as conspiracy nuts. Obama’s endorsement of the B1 scenario’s miscellany of anti-capitalism, communitarian ideologies and totalitarian schemes clearly reinforces the contention that green is the new red.

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